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As discussed in this module, our cultural identities are made up of so many facets; my age, sex, gender, where I grew up, spiritual/religious affiliation, primary language spoken, education, etc. affect how I interact with my clients. When I walk into a session, the part of my cultural identity that I feel affects my relationships most is my intense curiosity and Midwest hospitality-type personality; I want to built a rapport that helps us connect in a way that will make the therapeutic process most successful, and I LOVE learning about people’s hobbies, pet peeves and more. I find I often first want to know what makes my client smile/laugh, how they like to high 5 or greet someone, what their favorite artist is, how are they most comfortable sitting; asking questions (verbally and non-verbally) – in MY cultural identity – is considered okay, genial, and almost always an excellent ice breaker for the children I work with. However, this behavior isn’t considered genial. I’ve encountered clients and staff that felt asking questions was intrusive and rude, for cultural, generational, or religious reasons. I had to quickly hone my ability to read the room, adjust my behavior, and either apologize and/or redirect the conversation in a way that conveys to the client/staff that I respect them and look forward to getting to know them in whatever ways they are comfortable.
This same part of my cultural identity is also my most beneficial trait as I find immense joy in learning clients’ favorite music, dance, culture, and language and figuring out how to combine those with the interests of others in the group. I work hard to model an inviting, safe, and enthusiastic curiosity so that client’s feel comfortable sharing with me, knowing that their thoughts and delights are just as valued as mine, their peers’, and the staffs’.Deborah SoszkoParticipant
Something I learned that I will use in my music therapy practice is to be more bold in following up with WHY? For example, if a particular style of music is discouraged, “Why?”.I typically just jump right into saying “I will never sing inappropriate words/innuendos, teachers, don’t worry!” But it would be helpful to open the discussion about the nature of the objection and not assume. Is it a style that is particularly non-white and therefore seems inappropriate or assumed to have bad language? Asking for clarification can answer questions for both myself and the client’s I serve, who may not have thought to ask, or may not have the words. A frequent dialogue while working in schools is “what is this student’s behavior plan?”. I have experienced situations where the behavior plan or consequence chart seemed to be more harsh to children of color, or more lenient to CERTAIN children of color. At the time I recall trusting the judgement of staff almost implicitly but I am more emboldened to ask the simple question of WHY? should I ever witness this agin. “why were these parameters/consequences deemed appropriate?” At the very least, it will afford me the ability to review information I may not have access to, reveal biases or assumptions, and/or open a discussion with staff that can provide insight into how we approach meeting the goals of our clients.
- This reply was modified 2 years ago by Deborah Soszko.